Spend locally, earn rewards from Shop N Dine McHenry website

App-based point program set to go live Wednesday

McHenry wants residents to spend their money locally and hope a new app that allows them to earn points and cash back when they do will help to encourage it.

On Wednesday, the city is due to launch Shopndinemchenry.com. The program requires shoppers to download the Open Rewards: Shop Local app, available in Apple Store or GooglePlay, and sign up for the cash back program.

The city is funding the program, said Economic Development Director Doug Martin. Shoppers can earn up to 5% cash back on purchases made with participating retailers. Those cash back rewards are redeemed by making purchases at other McHenry retailers in the system.

“Businesses don’t have to do anything” to ensure buyers are getting their points, Martin said.

Shoppers are asked to connect their banking information to the app to store and earn the points automatically, Martin said. Those who do not link their card to the app can manually enter receipts from participating businesses.

As of this week, 411 businesses, stores and restaurants have signed up for the program, including retails, restaurants, grocery, services and automotive repair, Martin said.

McHenry is working with Bludot.io, which also built McHenry’s online business directory, Martin said.

According to the Bludot website, it does not retain any banking information for the app users. It uses third-party service Plaid for the financial connections. Neither is there any advertising on the app, Martin said.

McHenry is paying an annual, $8,000 fee and $295 a year for its subscription to Bludot for the service, Martin said. With those fees, McHenry also gets a customer relationship management platform it uses for its economic development programs.

Shopndinemchenry.com is a pilot program. The program will remain “as long as the money is there,” Martin said. “I don’t know how quickly it will catch on.”

He also noted there is a limit of $100 cash back per transaction.

The McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce and Naturally McHenry County are helping to promote the program, and the city purchased a billboard at Bull Valley Road and Route 31 to get the word out. Jexal’s Pizza in downtown McHenry is also doing pizza boxes imprinted with the program information.

Martin also gave an update on a proposed Arby’s that was set to come to McHenry. Originally proposed for 4104 Elm St., that developer has pulled out of its previous negotiations with the city.

Community Development Director Ross Polerecky said that the developer’s costs, including construction, went up “and they could not meet their pro formas” to make the project work.

However, a plan to bring Leona’s Pizza to McHenry, at the former Kojak’s restaurant, is still in the works, Martin said. He spoke to the building owner as recently as June and the plan continues to move forward, Martin said.

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